||This project is entitled “Queer Korea” and as such investigates issues surrounding
sexual identity in contemporary South Korea. While there has been extensive research
into non-heterosexual identities in other East Asian countries, especially China and
Japan, this field in Korea is still essentially unexplored. Over the course of two
years, I was able to conduct in depth interviews with 49 LGBT individuals living in
South Korea, and those interviews became the raw material for this project.
The central investigative focus analyzes how various iterations of gay identity intersect
with Korean culture and the wider, global conversation on what it means to be a sexual
minority. The initial focus on identity led me to postulate the existence of a “Queer
Social Compact” which dictates the expression of sexual difference; I then worked
to situate the current state of affairs facing LGBT individuals, and gay men in particular,
within the wider socio-historical context of Korea. Finally, I examine the oeuvre
of Heezy Yang, a gay activist and performance artist, in order to see how one individual
is challenging the heteronormative strictures in South Korean society.